Volunteering

Volunteering – Rights make a difference

Volunteering benefits society and volunteers themselves.

However volunteers often face have problems in finding good volunteer experiences. Ensuring that volunteer rights are protected helps ensure quality volunteering & sustainable volunteering organisations.

To define what rights volunteers should have, the European Youth Forum created a Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers during 2012 European Year of Volunteering. This Charter gives guidance on the rights and responsibilities that volunteers and volunteer providers should undertake and defines the roles of authorities at all levels.

The Charter on the Rights and Responsibilities of Volunteers illustrates this under the following headings:

 

Latest News

Belgium

The July 2005 Law on Volunteering entered into force in August 2006. It sets a legal framework for volunteering and applies to volunteering throughout Belgium. The Law on Volunteering sets up a clear definition of “volunteering” and regulates the following fields:

– Volunteering carried out by persons with a public allowance (pensions, subsidies, etc);
– Reimbursement of expenses made by volunteers;
– Liability of volunteers;
– Insurance obligations; and
– Obligation on behalf of the organisation to provide information

Hungary

The 2005 Act on voluntary activities in the public interest established a specific legal status for volunteering individuals. The key components of this law are that organisations hosting volunteers have to register and set up a contract with the volunteers in order to be eligible for tax benefits.

The volunteer is awarded a specific status and enjoys certain protection while on duty. The main aim of the law was to legalise activities that were undertaken outside any legal framework and therefore the law is limited to volunteering within specific types of NGOs.

UK

There is no one piece of legislation that refers explicitly to volunteers in the UK, rather general areas of law that apply to all UK citizens as individuals cover volunteers. It is good practice in the UK to extend employment rights and staff policies to volunteers, however there is no legal obligation to do so.

The Compact Code of Good Practice on Volunteering is also in place. The Code of Practice was initially published in 2000 and revised and republished in 2005. Its purpose is to recognise the value of volunteering and sets out undertakings to enable more people to become involved in voluntary activity as well as to influence behaviour to tackle the various barriers to volunteering.

France

There is no general legal framework regulating volunteering. On the one hand, various provisions scattered among different laws give certain rights to bénévoles in relation to their activity or status (e.g. unemployed people, pensioners). The bénévole has no legal status and is totally free to combine for profit and non-profit commitments.

There are also some laws protecting “volontariat” (e.g. volunteering in associations, for social cohesion and solidarity, etc).  The volontaire has a legal status and a contract of exclusive commitment with the structure that compensates him.

Spain

Volunteers have a legal status in Spain. The National Law No. 6/1996 on Volunteering stresses the importance of establishing boundaries between the concepts of “volunteer”  and “employee”. According to the national legal framework a volunteer is a person who carries out an activity without economic gain and without prejudice to the right of the volunteer to be reimbursed for any expenses s/he may incur while fulfilling their tasks. The activity carried out must be freely chosen and not subject to any personal duty or legal boundary; also the activity must be of an altruistic and solidarity character.

The National Law on volunteering (6/1996) also establishes rights and duties of volunteers. Among the rights, there are:

  • The provision of information and training;
  • The provision of insurance against accidents and illness;
  • Adequate security and hygiene conditions;
  • Reimbursement of expenses;
  • Volunteering Agreement between the organisation and the individual

Germany

No specific legal status for volunteers exists in Germany; volunteers have to act along the general legal conditions which partly regulate voluntary work with the aim to protect volunteers from specific risks, to compensate for disadvantages resulting from volunteering, to promote volunteering through qualifications or counselling, to create individual incentives for volunteers and to make volunteering possible.

However, a legal framework (and a specific legal status) exists for civic services performed as part of the “Voluntary Year of Social Service”  and the “Voluntary Year of Ecological Service”. Although the relationship between volunteers and the host organisations and/or assignment locations is not considered as employment, it is treated as equivalent to employment under public law protection regulations. As a consequence, the relevant employee protection regulations apply, such as the Employee Act, Workplace Ordinance, Youth Work Protection Act and Maternity Protection Act. Furthermore, participants in the “Voluntary Year of Social Service” and the “Voluntary Year on Ecological Service” are covered by social insurance and receive pension, accident, health care and rehabilitation as well as unemployment insurance.

Volunteers title

Which of the following rights do you have in your volunteer experience?

–       training
–       resources
–       task description
–       mobility
–       non-discrimination
–       work-life balance
–       recognition of volunteering

Take action and get your rights!

–       Take the Charter into your organisation
–       Spread the word about volunteer rights
–       Make your voice heard through your organisation

 

Belgium

The July 2005 Law on Volunteering entered into force in August 2006. It sets a legal framework for volunteering and applies to volunteering throughout Belgium. The Law on Volunteering sets up a clear definition of “volunteering” and regulates the following fields:

– Volunteering carried out by persons with a public allowance (pensions, subsidies, etc);
– Reimbursement of expenses made by volunteers;
– Liability of volunteers;
– Insurance obligations; and
– Obligation on behalf of the organisation to provide information

Hungary

The 2005 Act on voluntary activities in the public interest established a specific legal status for volunteering individuals. The key components of this law are that organisations hosting volunteers have to register and set up a contract with the volunteers in order to be eligible for tax benefits.

The volunteer is awarded a specific status and enjoys certain protection while on duty. The main aim of the law was to legalise activities that were undertaken outside any legal framework and therefore the law is limited to volunteering within specific types of NGOs.

UK

There is no one piece of legislation that refers explicitly to volunteers in the UK, rather general areas of law that apply to all UK citizens as individuals cover volunteers. It is good practice in the UK to extend employment rights and staff policies to volunteers, however there is no legal obligation to do so.

The Compact Code of Good Practice on Volunteering is also in place. The Code of Practice was initially published in 2000 and revised and republished in 2005. Its purpose is to recognise the value of volunteering and sets out undertakings to enable more people to become involved in voluntary activity as well as to influence behaviour to tackle the various barriers to volunteering.

France

There is no general legal framework regulating volunteering. On the one hand, various provisions scattered among different laws give certain rights to bénévoles in relation to their activity or status (e.g. unemployed people, pensioners). The bénévole has no legal status and is totally free to combine for profit and non-profit commitments.

There are also some laws protecting “volontariat” (e.g. volunteering in associations, for social cohesion and solidarity, etc).  The volontaire has a legal status and a contract of exclusive commitment with the structure that compensates him.

Spain

Volunteers have a legal status in Spain. The National Law No. 6/1996 on Volunteering stresses the importance of establishing boundaries between the concepts of “volunteer”  and “employee”. According to the national legal framework a volunteer is a person who carries out an activity without economic gain and without prejudice to the right of the volunteer to be reimbursed for any expenses s/he may incur while fulfilling their tasks. The activity carried out must be freely chosen and not subject to any personal duty or legal boundary; also the activity must be of an altruistic and solidarity character.

The National Law on volunteering (6/1996) also establishes rights and duties of volunteers. Among the rights, there are:

  • The provision of information and training;
  • The provision of insurance against accidents and illness;
  • Adequate security and hygiene conditions;
  • Reimbursement of expenses;
  • Volunteering Agreement between the organisation and the individual

Germany

No specific legal status for volunteers exists in Germany; volunteers have to act along the general legal conditions which partly regulate voluntary work with the aim to protect volunteers from specific risks, to compensate for disadvantages resulting from volunteering, to promote volunteering through qualifications or counselling, to create individual incentives for volunteers and to make volunteering possible.

However, a legal framework (and a specific legal status) exists for civic services performed as part of the “Voluntary Year of Social Service”  and the “Voluntary Year of Ecological Service”. Although the relationship between volunteers and the host organisations and/or assignment locations is not considered as employment, it is treated as equivalent to employment under public law protection regulations. As a consequence, the relevant employee protection regulations apply, such as the Employee Act, Workplace Ordinance, Youth Work Protection Act and Maternity Protection Act. Furthermore, participants in the “Voluntary Year of Social Service” and the “Voluntary Year on Ecological Service” are covered by social insurance and receive pension, accident, health care and rehabilitation as well as unemployment insurance.

Decision makers

Why the Rights-Based Approach?

A rights-based approach towards volunteering and the norms, principles, standards and goals of volunteering, acknowledges the specific context and different forms of volunteering as the point of departure. It establishes volunteers as active rights-holders and creates corresponding duties for responsibility-holders. Furthermore a rights based approach aims to empower and enable the rights holder to claim their rights. The foundation for a rights based approach to volunteering in Europe has been laid, as reflected in key United Nations, Council of Europe and European Union documents and instruments on the matter.

 

Why invest in volunteering?

–       There are nearly 100 million volunteers in Europe

–       Volunteering has a priceless value to society and the economy

–       Five of the top six skills demanded by employers are developed through voluntering (Executive Summary: Study on the impact of Non-Formal Education in Youth Organisations on Young People’s Employability)

 

 

 

EU topics/policies that are currently being debated related to volunteering

–  The implementation of the Recommendation on the recognition of Non-Formal & Informal Education

–  Visa mobility for third country volunteers to the EU

–  Possible reform of taxation & VAT rules for volunteer orgs

–  Implementation of Erasmus+ and other funding programmes

 

Belgium

The July 2005 Law on Volunteering entered into force in August 2006. It sets a legal framework for volunteering and applies to volunteering throughout Belgium. The Law on Volunteering sets up a clear definition of “volunteering” and regulates the following fields:

– Volunteering carried out by persons with a public allowance (pensions, subsidies, etc);
– Reimbursement of expenses made by volunteers;
– Liability of volunteers;
– Insurance obligations; and
– Obligation on behalf of the organisation to provide information

Hungary

The 2005 Act on voluntary activities in the public interest established a specific legal status for volunteering individuals. The key components of this law are that organisations hosting volunteers have to register and set up a contract with the volunteers in order to be eligible for tax benefits.

The volunteer is awarded a specific status and enjoys certain protection while on duty. The main aim of the law was to legalise activities that were undertaken outside any legal framework and therefore the law is limited to volunteering within specific types of NGOs.

UK

There is no one piece of legislation that refers explicitly to volunteers in the UK, rather general areas of law that apply to all UK citizens as individuals cover volunteers. It is good practice in the UK to extend employment rights and staff policies to volunteers, however there is no legal obligation to do so.

The Compact Code of Good Practice on Volunteering is also in place. The Code of Practice was initially published in 2000 and revised and republished in 2005. Its purpose is to recognise the value of volunteering and sets out undertakings to enable more people to become involved in voluntary activity as well as to influence behaviour to tackle the various barriers to volunteering.

France

There is no general legal framework regulating volunteering. On the one hand, various provisions scattered among different laws give certain rights to bénévoles in relation to their activity or status (e.g. unemployed people, pensioners). The bénévole has no legal status and is totally free to combine for profit and non-profit commitments.

There are also some laws protecting “volontariat” (e.g. volunteering in associations, for social cohesion and solidarity, etc).  The volontaire has a legal status and a contract of exclusive commitment with the structure that compensates him.

Spain

Volunteers have a legal status in Spain. The National Law No. 6/1996 on Volunteering stresses the importance of establishing boundaries between the concepts of “volunteer”  and “employee”. According to the national legal framework a volunteer is a person who carries out an activity without economic gain and without prejudice to the right of the volunteer to be reimbursed for any expenses s/he may incur while fulfilling their tasks. The activity carried out must be freely chosen and not subject to any personal duty or legal boundary; also the activity must be of an altruistic and solidarity character.

The National Law on volunteering (6/1996) also establishes rights and duties of volunteers. Among the rights, there are:

  • The provision of information and training;
  • The provision of insurance against accidents and illness;
  • Adequate security and hygiene conditions;
  • Reimbursement of expenses;
  • Volunteering Agreement between the organisation and the individual

Germany

No specific legal status for volunteers exists in Germany; volunteers have to act along the general legal conditions which partly regulate voluntary work with the aim to protect volunteers from specific risks, to compensate for disadvantages resulting from volunteering, to promote volunteering through qualifications or counselling, to create individual incentives for volunteers and to make volunteering possible.

However, a legal framework (and a specific legal status) exists for civic services performed as part of the “Voluntary Year of Social Service”  and the “Voluntary Year of Ecological Service”. Although the relationship between volunteers and the host organisations and/or assignment locations is not considered as employment, it is treated as equivalent to employment under public law protection regulations. As a consequence, the relevant employee protection regulations apply, such as the Employee Act, Workplace Ordinance, Youth Work Protection Act and Maternity Protection Act. Furthermore, participants in the “Voluntary Year of Social Service” and the “Voluntary Year on Ecological Service” are covered by social insurance and receive pension, accident, health care and rehabilitation as well as unemployment insurance.

Volunteer Organisations

Is your organisation volunteer-friendly? Check if you fulfill the below rights for your volunteers:

    Human resources

    Article 11: “Every volunteer is entitled to a coherent task-description that allows them to implement the volunteering activity with a clear understanding of its aims and objectives”.

    Support

    Article 9: “Every volunteer is entitled to the reimbursement of expenses incurred in relation to voluntary activity”

    Article 12: “Every volunteer is entitled to support and feedback throughout the volunteering activity”

    Article 14: “Every volunteer is entitled to the necessary educational/training support”

     

    Article 16: “Every volunteer is entitled, if required by the volunteering activity, to flexibility of working time and educational activities in order to undertake volunteering”.

    Recognition

    Article 13: “Every volunteer has the right to participate in the decision-making process regarding  the volunteering activity at the most appropriate level”

    Article 15: “Every volunteer has the right to have the contribution, skills and competences gained through volunteering activities recognised by formal educational and professional structures”

Belgium

The July 2005 Law on Volunteering entered into force in August 2006. It sets a legal framework for volunteering and applies to volunteering throughout Belgium. The Law on Volunteering sets up a clear definition of “volunteering” and regulates the following fields:

– Volunteering carried out by persons with a public allowance (pensions, subsidies, etc);
– Reimbursement of expenses made by volunteers;
– Liability of volunteers;
– Insurance obligations; and
– Obligation on behalf of the organisation to provide information

Hungary

The 2005 Act on voluntary activities in the public interest established a specific legal status for volunteering individuals. The key components of this law are that organisations hosting volunteers have to register and set up a contract with the volunteers in order to be eligible for tax benefits.

The volunteer is awarded a specific status and enjoys certain protection while on duty. The main aim of the law was to legalise activities that were undertaken outside any legal framework and therefore the law is limited to volunteering within specific types of NGOs.

UK

There is no one piece of legislation that refers explicitly to volunteers in the UK, rather general areas of law that apply to all UK citizens as individuals cover volunteers. It is good practice in the UK to extend employment rights and staff policies to volunteers, however there is no legal obligation to do so.

The Compact Code of Good Practice on Volunteering is also in place. The Code of Practice was initially published in 2000 and revised and republished in 2005. Its purpose is to recognise the value of volunteering and sets out undertakings to enable more people to become involved in voluntary activity as well as to influence behaviour to tackle the various barriers to volunteering.

France

There is no general legal framework regulating volunteering. On the one hand, various provisions scattered among different laws give certain rights to bénévoles in relation to their activity or status (e.g. unemployed people, pensioners). The bénévole has no legal status and is totally free to combine for profit and non-profit commitments.

There are also some laws protecting “volontariat” (e.g. volunteering in associations, for social cohesion and solidarity, etc).  The volontaire has a legal status and a contract of exclusive commitment with the structure that compensates him.

Spain

Volunteers have a legal status in Spain. The National Law No. 6/1996 on Volunteering stresses the importance of establishing boundaries between the concepts of “volunteer”  and “employee”. According to the national legal framework a volunteer is a person who carries out an activity without economic gain and without prejudice to the right of the volunteer to be reimbursed for any expenses s/he may incur while fulfilling their tasks. The activity carried out must be freely chosen and not subject to any personal duty or legal boundary; also the activity must be of an altruistic and solidarity character.

The National Law on volunteering (6/1996) also establishes rights and duties of volunteers. Among the rights, there are:

  • The provision of information and training;
  • The provision of insurance against accidents and illness;
  • Adequate security and hygiene conditions;
  • Reimbursement of expenses;
  • Volunteering Agreement between the organisation and the individual

Germany

No specific legal status for volunteers exists in Germany; volunteers have to act along the general legal conditions which partly regulate voluntary work with the aim to protect volunteers from specific risks, to compensate for disadvantages resulting from volunteering, to promote volunteering through qualifications or counselling, to create individual incentives for volunteers and to make volunteering possible.

However, a legal framework (and a specific legal status) exists for civic services performed as part of the “Voluntary Year of Social Service”  and the “Voluntary Year of Ecological Service”. Although the relationship between volunteers and the host organisations and/or assignment locations is not considered as employment, it is treated as equivalent to employment under public law protection regulations. As a consequence, the relevant employee protection regulations apply, such as the Employee Act, Workplace Ordinance, Youth Work Protection Act and Maternity Protection Act. Furthermore, participants in the “Voluntary Year of Social Service” and the “Voluntary Year on Ecological Service” are covered by social insurance and receive pension, accident, health care and rehabilitation as well as unemployment insurance.

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Tel.: +32 2 793 75 20
Fax : +32 2 893 25 80
youthforum@youthforum.org

With the support of
The European Commission
The European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe